Cook County and Partners Launch Metra Fare Reduction and Improved Pace Service

January 4, 2021

Fair Transit South Cook is taking first steps toward more equitable transit service in south Cook and north Will counties

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Metra, Pace and Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) leaders today officially launched a pilot project to improve public transportation in south Cook County, starting with reduced Metra fares on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines and extended service on Pace’s 352 Halsted route.

Fair Transit South Cook, a three-year pilot project, aims to reduce costs and make transit more convenient for residents and essential workers in south Cook and north Will counties. Ultimately, the pilot seeks to provide seamless transfers between all transit operators in subsequent phases.

 “Making transit an easier choice for our south Cook communities is a top priority and I am thrilled we have finally arrived at the point where we can put our vision of a regional transit partnership into action,” said President Preckwinkle This is an important component of my administration’s overall focus on equitable policies and programs to ensure that our whole community has the opportunity to prosper.”

Under the pilot, all riders on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines will pay Metra’s reduced fare rates – which are normally for seniors, K-12 students and other eligible groups – for all tickets. The reduced fare tickets are available now from ticket agents, ticket machines and the Ventra app. The paper and mobile tickets will be marked for use on the Metra Electric and Rock Island lines only.

Updated timetables for Pace’s Halsted 352 service can be viewed from their website. Information about both pilot initiatives can be found on the County’s website at: www.cookcountyil.gov/FAIRTRANSIT.

“I would like to thank President Preckwinkle for her leadership and financial backing for this pilot,” said Metra Board Chair Romayne Brown. “With this effort, we are promoting transit equity and supporting essential workers and those most in need. We are making transit an easier choice and a better choice. It’s truly a win-win situation for everyone.”

Pace’s Board Chair Richard A. Kwasneski said, “Pace appreciates working together with Metra and the County on this important initiative. The Halsted route is carrying more than 2,300 people each day during the pandemic and we’re looking forward to serving even more people with increased frequency and extended hours.”

For years, many stakeholders have helped advance the goals of Fair Transit South Cook to maximize the positive impact. The County will foster momentum through a robust public engagement campaign to raise awareness and participation in the program.

“Fair Transit South Cook is an exciting example of collaboration between agencies to improve service, lower costs and achieve real impact for residents with critical transit needs by investing in the current system,” said RTA Board Chairman Kirk Dillard. “This partnership will also provide us with invaluable lessons as we look to our transit system’s post-pandemic recovery and beyond. I commend President Preckwinkle on her and the County on their leadership on this important step forward.”

The County recently launched a Fair Transit public survey which garnered nearly 500 responses from residents and transit riders. The results and comments are being analyzed to better understand how the pandemic has shaped transit ridership and how the pilot can be most effective.

One survey respondent highlighted, “Metra Electric is an amazing and strategic infrastructure resource that unfortunately is underutilized. Lowering the fare will go a long way to helping those in need and revitalizing communities that have suffered too long under systemic disinvestment.”

To watch a short video which highlights the impact community leaders expect to see from Fair Transit, click here.

For broll, Metra fare chart and Pace 352 schedule, click here.

Additional broll from the inaugural Metra train ride with President Preckwinkle and transit leaders will be sent later today.

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